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The best places to work in French investment banks now

With just a few weeks to go before year end, if you’re looking to work in M&A at one of the big four French banks (BNP Paribas, SocGen, Natixis and Credit Agricole CIB) in 2020 then we have everything you need to know about the industry teams that have been winners and losers in France in 2019.*

Best French banks for M&A and Investment banking

2019 has hardly been a vintage year for M&A in France, with overall fees down by 35% and with the one notable exception, the big four French banks have reflected that downward trend.

BNP Paribas has maintained its fourth place in French M&A fee rankings, albeit by earning $26m less in fees during 2018 than it did a year ago.

Natixis has lost ground. Natixis has a unique model among its rivals as it operates a multi-boutique model following a series of acquisition of small independent firms. This year, fees earned by Natixis have fallen to $18m from $38.7m in 2019 and it has dropped four places to 13th in the M&A rankings.

Crédit Agricole CIB has proved to be the exception, doubling its M&A income in France and jumping to sixth place, up from 13th a year ago, according to Dealogic.

However, Paris-based bankers looking for an exciting place to work in M&A in 2020 should look no further than Rothschild, which is on course to top the French M&A fee rankings for the second consecutive year. Goldman Sachs is hot on its heels, shunting Lazard into third place.

Looking beyond France, Crédit Agricole has also performed well Europe, jumping 10 places to reach 20th in the European M&A fee rankings. By contrast, BNP Paribas has fallen one place to 13th in the fee rankings, while its rivals have dropped off the pace – SocGen has slipped eight places to 28th, and Natixis has tumbled to 32nd position, compared with 23rd a year ago.

What’s the best team to work for at BNP Paribas?

Of the big four French investment banks BNP Paribas has the biggest M&A business in Europe as a whole. Its industrials team is ranked ninth by M&A fees in Europe while its strongest offering is in energy, power and resources, where it is ranked sixth in the region, compared with ninth in 2018.

Much of that strength is evident In France where it is ranked fourth in the overall fee rankings for energy and natural resources, up from 8th a year ago while maintaining third place in industrials.

BNP's consumer and retail team has also had a good year jumping to from sixth to third with a M&A market share of 19%. The bank has also gained ground in healthcare where it has climbed one place to ninth. It has entered the top 10 in telecoms, boosted by its work advising long-standing client Altice.

The bank maintained its fifth-placed ranking in advising financial sponsors on M&A deals in France.

BNP Paribas has lost ground in a number of sectors though. Its technology team has dropped six places to 10th while in FIG it has slipped to seventh from fourth a year ago. In communications, media and entertainment it has fallen out of the top 10 after finishing 2018 in seventh position, according to Dealogic.

What’s the best team to work for at SocGen?

It’s been a tough year in M&A for SocGen, as the bank has streamlined its investment bank and bankers accepted generous redundancy packages. CEO and chairman Frederic Oudéa has placed a big question mark over its global equities businesses after admitting he is looking for potential joint venture partners.

SocGen does not feature in the top 10 fee rankings in any of the big sectors in EMEA, and has lost ground in many areas in France. In particular it has dropped out of the top 10 in energy and natural resources, retail and consumer, healthcare and media, communications and entertainment.

However, SocGen’s chemicals M&A team turned in a strong performance this year, jumping to fourth in the fee rankings after ranking outside the top 10 in 2018. Meanwhile its FIG advisory team has also entered the top ten in France. Its telecoms team slipped two places to sixth while it failed to feature among the top 10 fee earners for financial sponsors on French M&A deals for the second year running.

What's the best team to work for at Natixis?

Natixis has spent the last several years in expansion mode, hoovering up stakes in a number of independent M&A firms. In 2018, it bought a stake in London-based FIG specialist Fenchurch Advisory Partners as well as Clipperton, a French technology M&A boutique.

SocGen's financial institutions group (FIG) business has made big strides, with Natixis ranking second in French FIG M&A, up from fifth in 2018. But it has lost momentum in technology M&A , falling outside of the top ten fee earners in France after finishing 2018 in seventh place. Its healthcare team has slipped three spots to 10th while it grabbed ninth spot in energy and natural resources, having ranked outside the top 10 in France a year ago.

What's the best place to work at Crédit Agricole CIB?

Credit Agricole CIB is the big surprise in 2019. Insiders say its progress is down to the arrival of Jacques Ripoll as head of its corporate and investment bank. The bank’s consumer and retail team enjoyed a strong year, climbing to second place in the French M&A fee rankings after finishing 2018 in ninth spot. It also ranked 8th in the European fee leagues – its only top 10 finish in the region. In France, the bank burst into the top 10 in four sectors - industrials, telecoms, energy and natural resources and media, telecommunications and entertainment.

Credit Agricole also improved in FIG, where it was ranked sixth, two places higher than in 2018. But it failed to make a dent in the top in healthcare, technology or financial sponsors in France.

*Based on Dealogic fee rankings for the year to December 6.

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AUTHORDavid Rothnie Insider Comment

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